Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Review: All Summer Long

Summary: Dorothea Benton Frank novels are filled with smart and witty fiction that every reader wants on their bookshelf: soulful, edgy stories about realistic characters familiar to us all that explore the most deeply felt moments of life with wry humor and heart.

All Summer Long follows one charming New York couple – prominent interior designer Olivia Ritchie and her husband Nicholas Seymour, an English professor and true southern gentleman. They are seemingly polar opposites, yet magnetically drawn together and in love for more than fourteen years.

As they prepare to relocate to Charleston, S.C., Olivia, the ultimate New Yorker, has reservations about the promise she made to retire in the Lowcountry, where Nick wants to return home and lead a more peaceful life. They are moving north to south, fast pace versus slow pace and downsizing. Nick is ecstatic. Olivia is not. She can’t let Nick know that their finances are not what he thought. Her client list is evaporating, their monetary reserves are dwindling and maybe that house she picked out on Sullivans Island needs too much work. Thank God, for her assistant, Roni Larini, her right (and sometimes left) hand.

As they find themselves pondering the next step of their lives, Olivia and Nick travel with her billionaire clients and their friends and are swept up into the world of the ultra-rich and explore the globe with a cast of zany eccentrics over one tumultuous, hot summer. All as Olivia grapples with what lies ahead for her and Nick.

This is a story of how plans evolve and lives change in unexpected ways, how even those who have everything are still looking for something more. Even the most successful people can often struggle to keep things together. All Summer Long asks the ultimate question: can money buy happiness? From Sullivans Island to Necker Island to Nantucket to the beaches of Southern Spain, we’ll come to recognize the many faces of true love, love that deepens and endures but only because one woman makes a tremendous leap of faith. And that leap changes everything. -- William Morrow

I think I've already said this about a few authors this month, but it just wouldn't be summer with a novel by Dorothea Benton Frank. Her latest novel, ALL SUMMER LONG, was released yesterday; and once again, the setting in her stories just makes me long for the beach, warm weather, and the sun!

ALL SUMMER LONG tells the story of a Olivia Ritchie, a prominent New York interior designer, and her charming husband, Nicholas Seymour, a retired English professor. Evidently, opposites do attract because these two don't seem to have much in common; however, they are still passionately in love with each other.

The book begins with Olivia and Nick preparing for their move to the Sullivans Island. They always agreed to leave behind New York City for a quieter lifestyle, and Nick wanted to return to his Southern roots after his retirement. Olivia isn't quite as confident as Nick that this new direction is for her. Not only is she worried about leaving NYC, she also is keeping a pretty big secret from Nick -- their once comfortable financial situation is no longer quite so comfortable. She has only one major client, their savings are rapidly disappearing, and their new house requires a lot of work... and therefore a lot of money.

Meanwhile, Olivia and Nick have the opportunity to travel with her billionaire client (and friend) to some pretty exotic locations. They fly in private jets, sail on huge yachts, and visit remote islands. Sounds amazing, right? But things aren't always what they appear. Traveling with the very wealthy client and their friends, Olivia and Nick discover that these individuals don't always make the best vacation partners.

ALL SUMMER LONG had a different feel that the other Dorothea Benton Frank novels that I've read. It still had the South Carolina beaches which make me long for the beach, and the characters still were interesting (and often times entertaining!); however, the book wasn't "typical" DBF. If I'm being entirely honest, it wasn't my favorite one of her novels. I definitely credit her for trying to do something a little different with this book and the characters, but I missed my "beach book."

While I definitely loved Olivia and Nick, I think the crazy cast of characters was a bit much. A few of these people were absolutely despicable, and I had a hard time believing them... although they did provide a few laughs. There were some other characters that I did like, but it wasn't until the end of the novel that I realized that they were more complex than just the stereotypical wealthy type.

In addition, ALL SUMMER LONG was entertaining. I loved Ms. Frank's descriptions of the beaches, but I also appreciated her details about Olivia's decorating business. It was fun to read about the textures, patterns and colors as well as the various antiques she collected through the years. I also loved the descriptions of the wealthy lifestyle and the food and drink!

And lastly, I did appreciate the messages in this novel. Ms. Frank took two people who were undergoing some major changes -- moving, retiring, and making changes to a business; and she showed how their love and respect for each other helped them make the best of everything... even when it wasn't always smooth sailing. Also, by showing how miserable the people who had "more" were, it makes readers see that money isn't everything... that the relationships in our lives are what really matter!

I enjoyed ALL SUMMER LONG and do think it's a great addition to your summer reading list. Recommended to fans of Ms. Frank's and readers who want a fun escape read!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

That does sound like a departure for her. I'm sure I'll read it soon.

Beth F said...

Even though this is isn't her typical beach book, I'm still looking forward to it. I usually really like her characters.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I agree this is a different book for Dorothea, but I really liked this one. I always look forward to her books too!

joyh82 said...

I love her books and can't wait to get my hands on this one!